#womenwrites: on domestic violence & need for separate spaces for BME women, as well as independent publishing.

Is the white saviour narrative in film finally dead on arrival? – Diaspora Tales, by Vanessa Walters  via @WritersofColour

When Sarah Hagi conceived her ‘Daily Prayer for the confidence of a mediocre white man’, it might have been referencing Peter Farelly, the filmmaker of Dumb and Dumber who suddenly decided he was ideally qualified to take on racial politics and African American history in the form of Green Book, which opens February 1st in the UK.

Sure, the road to ridicule is paved with good intentions. Just as Tom Cruise’s entirely fictional white man Nathan Algren is inserted into Japanese history to tell the story of the Samurai tradition in The Last Samurai, Viggo Mortensen’s Tony Lip is centred in the true story of Black classical pianist Dr Don Shirley. Shirley is played by Mahershala Ali and the film takes its name from the Negro Motorist Green Book – an essential travel guide for Black people to stay safe while travelling around a deeply racist and segregated America.

BME women fleeing violence need help – not penalties for who they are, by Lola Okolosie

Rotherham is a town now made infamous by grooming gangs and government agencies that assumed children as young as 11 could consent to sex with men old enough to be their fathers. Five minutes from a city centre that has perhaps seen better days, sits the black and minority ethnic (BME) violence against women and girls (VAWG) charity Apna Haq. Nestled behind a large mechanic’s garage, its location provides an apt visual metaphor. Not unlike wild flowers that bloom by busy roadsides, the charity exists and flourishes in spite of it all.  …

The story of Apna Haq’s near demise is depressingly familiar to Imkaan, an organisation that provides strategic oversight and advocacy to BME organisations working to end gender-based violence across the UK. In its latest report, it provides yet more proof of why its members remain “the ‘poor relation’ of the wider ending VAWG movement”. Its findings reveal that the combined income of 15 London-based BME ending VAWG organisations is less than that of the main single provider in the capital. This in a city where 40% of the population is BME and where there is the highest concentration of such services. …

The ‘Father of Modern Gynecology’ Performed Shocking Experiments on Slaves He was a medical trailblazer, but at what cost?, by Brynn Holland 

James Marion Sims developed pioneering tools and surgical techniques related to women’s reproductive health, and is credited as the “father of modern gynecology.” The 19th-century physician has been lionized with statues in New York City, South Carolina, and Pennsylvania.

But because Sims’ research was conducted on enslaved black women without anesthesia, medical ethicists, historians and others have called for those monuments to be removed—or for them to be reconfigured as tributes to the enslaved women known to have endured his experiments. …

Ideas for how a small black publisher can survive beyond the hype , by Valerie Brandes via @thebookseller

As a privately-held, black, female, owned and operated small independent publishing company, Jacaranda is still something of a unique occurrence. When we founded it in 2012, the publishing landscape looked decidedly whiter and was more disengaged from any kind of understanding of the dynamic world of “blackness”, let alone diversity. And while there have since been a new crop of publishing houses and imprints – think OwnIt, Dialogue Books, Cassava Republic and Hope Road – and multiple book deals involving runaway success titles like Slay in Your Lane, it’s essential that we keep talking (and producing) what’s conceivable and achievable for UK black publishing long after it slides off the trend radar of the mainstream industry. …

#womenwrites: women’s unpaid labour, Femicide, decolonising education & Leila Abouela

Making women’s unpaid work count, by Anne Manne

” … Citing the 2016 census figures, Plibersek said the average woman did 14 hours of housework and family organisation per week and the average man fewer than five, while women did three quarters of the child care, and 70 per cent of caring for elderly or disabled family members or friends. “The Australian economy, Australian society, rests upon women’s unpaid work,” said Plibersek. “As Marilyn Waring – the founder of feminist economics – once said, ‘What we don’t count, counts for nothing.’” …

THE MUSEUM, by Martha Blow

It was in my fourth year of university that I came across Leila Aboulela, shelved under ‘suggested further reading’ for a seminar on a Postcolonialism course. Indeed, before taking this course, my exposure to non-western writers within required reading was limited to the obligatory inclusion of Chinua Achebe’s Things Fall Apart in my second year. Although Aboulela’s novel The Translator occasionally crops up on postcolonial syllabi, it is her unflinching approach to colonialism in ‘The Museum’ that captured my attention and caused me to question museum ethics and neutrality. The 1997 short story’s value has not gone unrecognised elsewhere: it was the first winner of the Caine Prize for African Writing in 2000. The 19-page tale paints the story of Shadia, a Sudanese woman studying at Aberdeen, and her acquaintance with a fellow student – a long-haired Scot named Bryan. The predominant theme of the story is the struggle of communication between colonialism’s ‘predetermined groups’, and while Bryan and Shadia begin to bridge the gap in communication, this is halted when they visit a local museum at the story’s denouement, culminating with Shadia’s announcement, ‘I shouldn’t be here with you. You shouldn’t talk to me…’ (Aboulela 18). …

Six women killed in five days, you need to engage with this crisis, by Jane Gilmour  via @smh

As I write this, six women have been killed in the last five days. By the time you read it, there could well be more dead women making a small blip in the news cycle, but a blip is all they’ll get. No outpouring of national grief and rage. Just a blip. Compassion fatigue, it’s called, apparently.

Our compassion is fatigued by the daily drain of women being beaten, raped, assaulted, ignored, dismissed, blamed, ridiculed, murdered. How exhausted we all are by the violence women live and die with. …

Questions academics can ask to decolonise their classrooms, by  Shannon Morreira & Kathy Luckett

The curriculum is not just the “stuff” that students must learn to be knowledgeable and skilled in a particular discipline. It’s about more than just content.

Sociologists of education argue that “curriculum” is a highly ideological hybrid discourse. This means that it includes implicit ways of knowing, ways of doing and ways of being – as well as content.

In South African universities, curriculum issues came to the fore during a series of nationwide student protests between 2015 and 2017. Students have argued that what’s being taught in university courses is imported from the global North and doesn’t draw enough on African-based research and the work of academics from the global South. Students have also argued that course materials don’t take the backgrounds of most South African learners into account in terms of culture, language or method. …

#womenwrites: on women’s history, white supremacy and Gender Equality Act

The Surprising Story of Eartha Kitt in Istanbul, by Hilal Isler

“Beyond Reproach? Labour, the left and white supremacy” by Samantha Asumadu (@honestlyAbroad)

The saga of Girlguiding UK and the Equality Act exemptions, at Legal Feminist

A Big Emotion is Not an Emergency: Helping Teenagers Manage Their Emotions , by Lisa Marachiano via @areomagazine

“Gender Activism: A Feminist Critique” by Tanith Lloyd 

Jackie Kay, Edinburgh Book Festival and that pesky issue of class.

Last week, I attended two events featuring Jackie Kay at the Edinburgh Book Festival. She read from her new poetry collection Bantam, which as brilliant as her previous anthologies. I first heard Kay read from her collection Fiere at the Feminist & Woman’s Studies Association conference’ Rethinking Sisterhood conference in 2014. She quickly became my favourite poet; and, at that point, the only poet I liked since my sole previous introductions to poetry were the stale male crap I had to read in school.  Kay is funny, witty, compassionate and so very, very generous. She is also utterly glorious in joy when reading her own work to audiences.

I could gush for ages about Kay, the beauty of Bantam, as well the discussion with Ruth Wishart at the Book Festival. There were some great questions from audience members, however the audience response to one question surprised me. A woman stood up to ask a question and started with the statement “this is a very middle class room”. I didn’t think this was too odd as a statement, but many people in the audience did not appreciate the generalisation and shut down the questioner completely. Now, Kay did say that we can’t ever generalise about audiences and spoke of all the ways she has developed to ensure that her writing is available to as many people as possible, regardless of issues like class.* Her tenure as Scottish Makar has seen her traipse up and down the country visiting all manner of places and pieces. Kay is absolutely dedicated to building generations of people who understand what Audre Lorde meant when she wrote ‘Poetry is not a luxury.’ However,  the Edinburgh Book Festival is a very middle class event. Tickets cost 12 quid, which  is not an insignificant amount of money for many people, and that is without factoring in transport to and from the venue or the fact that I paid 2 quid for a bottle of water having left my refillable one at home.** Having a spare 15-20 quid lying about to go to a book festival is well outwith the budgeting of many Scottish families.

The term ‘middle class’  is now understood as a pejorative defining someone whose access to wealth and cultural capital makes them blind to the reality of lives of many people. And, many of the audience members making negative noises in response to the term were doing so in order to disassociate themselves with the negative definition rather than addressing the barriers to participation in culture that many people live with every single day. Had the question been: ‘this audience is full of people who aren’t dependent on food banks’, perhaps fewer people would have taken it as an insult rather a description of an event where money is essential for participation. However it was intended to mean, Edinburgh Book Festival is open to people who have the capacity to save money to buy tickets.

In a perfect world, book festivals  would be open to all people, but this isn’t a perfect world and the number of families dependent on food banks is expanding exponentially. But,1 in 3 children in Scotland live in poverty. Many other families live pay check to pay check . They live in areas with no accessible and affordable transport. School budgets have been decimated and trips to a book festival are the things that get cut first, despite being such an incredible enriching experience for children. Far too many adults are dependent on food banks to eat at least once a day. Charities are trying to feed children during school holidays to ensure they get fed at least once a day. Children are raising money to ensure that homeless people have dry socks; that we have people who are homeless or living in insecure accommodations is a disgrace. This is what we need to acknowledge and change.

Granted, language does change and many people who are middle class and wealthy are thoroughly unpleasant – as the support for Brexit makes clear. However, we cannot simply erase the original economic definition of the term middle class, not without erasing the lived experiences of people living in poverty or very close to the poverty line. We need to be clear what the full definition of middle class is and be very careful in how we apply it to specific situations and people. Using ‘middle class’ solely as pejorative is why several hundred people sitting in a marquee in Edinburgh during the various summer festivals (and without considering whether or not they are tourists who can afford to pay for hotels and meals out) immediately hissed at a woman pointing out the very real consequence of class analysis. Middle class is now ‘bad’, so no one is middle class – even those who fit the exact definition of the term in a Marxian sense. Frankly, more people need to get a grip and stop having minor tantrums when the truth of their economic status is pointed it. We need a return to a structural analysis of capitalism and a recognition that we can’t just identify ourselves out, particularly since the ‘no one’s middle class here’ noises were understood, by some, as a personal attack rather than structural analysis.

We cannot talk about the representation of people attending cultural events without starting from the point that it will always be closed to some people because we live in a society that punishes people for being poor. It really is this simple: economic class does exist and understanding it solely as a pejorative replicates the very behaviours and consequences that many activists think they’re challenging.

Poetry should never be a luxury; book festivals should never be a luxury. But, they are. And we need to be honest about why they are a luxury, not hissing at people who point out the truth

* This had come up in answer to a previous question.

** My medication means I don’t produce much saliva and occasionally have difficulty swallowing. No one wants to sit next to a woman who sounds like she’s choking up a lung because she has a cactus growing in her mouth.

Susan Brownmiller, Angela Davis, & the erasure of Black Feminist Activism

Susan Brownmiller’s Against Our Will is one of the most important texts in the history of women’s liberation. There is no debate on its impact on the so-called second wave* feminist movement and on women being able to speak their truth. All movements for social justice need to understand their history in order to create their future. This does not mean we need to see foundational texts like Against Our Will as perfect. Unfortunately, Rachel Cooke’s interview with Susan Brownmiller, published last month in The Guardian, falls into the trap of refusing to acknowledge that our ‘foundational’ texts are not only not perfect but also not written only by white women:

Against Our Will finally came out in 1975, five long years after the first of the key texts of women’s liberation: Kate Millett’s Sexual Politics and Shulamith Firestone’s The Dialectic of Sex. Though it would later be attacked by, among others, the black activist Angela Davis for its attitudes to race (in his piece, Remnick writes that Brownmiller’s treatment of the Emmett Till case “reads today as morally oblivious”), its reception was mostly positive and it became a bestseller (much later, with pleasing neatness, it would be included in the New York Public Library’s Books of the Century).

Calling Angela Davis a Black activist rather than a Black Feminist Activist is deeply problematic. Davis was/ is a significant theorist and activist in the feminist movement. Her book Women, Race & Classfirst published in 1981, is as radical and essential text as Against Our Will, Sexual Politics, The Dialectic of Sex, and The Feminine Mystique. The erasure of the term ‘feminist’ here implies that Davis’ critique was rude and unnecessary; that the experience of women of colour should only be spoken of in terms of sexism, and not the racism (or classism, disabilism or lesbophobia) that women experience. Failing to include the term feminist here doesn’t just imply that Davis isn’t a ‘real’ feminist, it completely erases her from the feminist movement.

The use of the term  ‘attack’ rather than critical engagement reinforces the idea that Davis’ response was rude and unnecessary.  Considering the fact that Emmett Till’s accuser has admitted to lying about Till wolf whistling at her, the insinuation here that Davis is the problem rather than Brownmiller’ representation of the murder of a teenage boy for the crime of being African-American is very concerning.

Firstly we need to stop using words like ‘attack’ to define discussion within the feminist movement. Critical engagement, debate, and self-reflection are essential to all social justice movements. No one should be above criticism and apologising is not a sign of weakness.

Yet, somehow we’ve arrived at a point where we split women into 2 categories: those we put on a pedestal and are absolutely banned from critiquing because they are ‘important’ and those whose work we must NEVER EVER read for fear of our brains imploding. Or, something equally ridiculous. This dichotomy plays straight into the hands of misogynists: we’re so busy back pedalling and apologising that we no longer recognise feminists as women. Women who make mistakes. Women who say stupid shit. Women who say deeply offensive things (and if they are on the pedestal we are definitely not allowed to mention the offensive language and actions). We don’t allow room for women to grow and change as actual human beings.

I am not arguing here for an erasure of past abusive comments, theories and actions or the dismissal of feminist texts which are deeply problematic. We need to acknowledge our actions and the negative consequences these had for other women. We also need to acknowledge that women can grow and change; that the true liberation of women will not happen if we ignore our history. Erasing Angela Davis from the feminist movement in order to protect Susan Brownmiller’s feelings and legacy are not the actions of women who are committed to feminist theory and activism. Against Our Will can be a seminal feminist text and be representative of the erasure of racism from feminist history. These positions are not a dichotomy. They are the true history of the feminist movement, where challenges from within are essential to the success of the movement.

Angela Davis is a Black feminist activist and academic. She did not ‘attack’ Susan Brownmiller. Davis simply demanded that the experience of Black women be recognised as reality; that sexism does not trump the intersecting oppressions experienced by women.

 

Further Reading:

Patricia Hill Collins & Sirma Bilge, Intersectionality, (Polity Press, 2016).

Angela Davis, Women, Race & Class, (Random House, 1981).

Bell Hooks, Feminism is for Everybody, (Pluto Press, 2000)

Chandra Talpade Mohanty, Feminism Without Borders: Decolonising Theory, Practicing Solidarity, (Duke University Press, 2003)

Cherry Moraga & Gloria Anzaldua, This Bridge Called My Back: Writings by Radical Women of Colour, (New York Press, 2015)

Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor, How We Get Free: Black Feminism and the Combahee River Collective, (Haymarket Books, 2017).

 

 

* I prefer Liz Kelly’s theory of feminism as a tapestry which all feminists (and now womanists) create and recreate by adding new threads and undoing that which is now understood to be problematic, rather than feminism as a series of ‘waves’.

Feminist Superhero Films we actually need.

Since DC’s  painful attempts at live action Superman, Justice League and Suicide Squad films, I’ve been telling everyone, and their cat, that Batman and Superman need to go. They are trite and whiny. And, unbearably smug and pretentious. Joker just needs to die.

Last week, I saw Black Panther with my daughter and two friends. The women in this film were incredible, brilliant, funny, intelligent and strong; characteristics that are missing in far too many superhero films where women are sidekicks and love interests. The difference between Black Panther and other superhero films is immense. We need more films like this rather another ‘woman as sidekick’ film like  Marvel’s Antman & Wasp. I was hoping they would break tradition and have a solo Wasp film where she rescues her mother, since Antman should be the annoying sidekick, not a character worthy of subsequent solo films.

So here is my lists of female superhero films to follow the solo Captain Marvel film , scheduled for 2019, and the rumoured solo Black Widow film in the works too.

The Solo Films: 

1. Storm – This needs to start with an apology from the fools in charge of X-Men Apocalypse who made her evil. Storm is not evil. Storm would never join a man/ God bent on the destruction of humanity. She is a teacher, midwife, and the true heart of the X-Men. Without Storm, the X-Men would have few redeeming characteristics since the men are all whiny and self-absorbed. She is their centre: powerful, strong and compassionate. I’m not going to get into Wolverine’s constant sexual harassment of Jean Grey, but Storm was far too forgiving in not accidentally losing Wolverine in a hurricane. On a different planet.

2. Batgirl: Any of the recent Batgirls would work.  Barbara Gordon is the best name for a solo film, but Cassandra Cain and Stephanie Brown would be excellent too.

3. Hellcat: After the books. Of course

4. Ms Marvel (Kamila Khan): Follows the comic books. Obviously.

5. America Chavez: the origins film. Possibly where Captain America actually dies (if they let him live in Infinity Wars).

6. Iron Heart: Because any more of Tony Stark whining will make my head explode. He’s a dick. In every film. Literally, his only moment of actual humanity is in his relationship with Spiderman. Which is about 7 films too late.

7. Shuri: Because she is incredible. And totally smarter than Tony Stark.

Team Films

1. Ms Marvel (Kamila Khan), America Chavez and Iron Heart team up with Wakanda’s Nakia, Okoye and Shuri to end the trafficking of women and children throughout the galaxy.

https://generationwhy2016blog.wordpress.com/2016/10/16/ms-marvel/

2. Harley Quinn, Posion Ivy & the Birds of Prey team up to kill Joker – and then Harley marries Poison Ivy. Oracle performs the ceremony and then they work together to end male violence against women and girls across the galaxies, recognising gaslighting and coercive control as criminal acts.

https://generationwhy2016blog.wordpress.com/2017/05/12/poison-ivy-harley-quinn-get-married/

3. A Justice League film without the tedious whinging of Batman & Superman. Preferably they are both dead although I’d tolerate a fallen into a different time stream/ alternate reality plot as long as neither actually appear in the film.

4. A-Force film following the series written and drawn by G. Willow Wilson, Marguerite Bennett and Jorge Molina. 

https://generationwhy2016blog.wordpress.com/2016/10/16/a-force/

5. Valkyrie & Sif buddy film: I don’t actually care about the plot of this film as long as no male superheroes show up. Bounty hunters taking down violent men could be fun though.

6. A Spider Gwen film – an origins film that examines how gender impacts Spider Gwen’s ability to help people. This list is all about the women but Miles Morales deserves a film too.

7. The Women of Wakanda which absolutely needs to be based on Roxane Gay’s books. And not just because someone at Marvel/ Disney might remember to invite her to the movie premier. Although that would help.

8. Batgirl: I‘d quite like an a film in which all of the women who become Batgirl work together. I know the animated Mystery of Batwoman film has 3 women working together as one, but these women deserve a proper film which explores their relationships with each other.

9. Gotham Academy: teenage superheroes with raging hormones? What could go wrong?

 

*All the art here is by my daughter. You can find all her artwork on her blog Generation Why?, which is named after the first Ms Marvel book featuring Kamila Khan.

 

Suggestions from @MogPlus:

Everyone Knew: The Harvey Weinstein Allegations – my new project

https://www.the-pool.com/news-views/latest-news/2017/43/a-comprehensive-list-of-every-weinstein-allegation-so-far (via @amysoandso)

Everyone knew.

We hear this over and over and over again. Every single time a male actor, athlete, musician, artist, politician, chef (and the list goes on) are alleged to be perpetrators of domestic and sexual violence and abuse, the refrain is “oh, everyone knew”.

Somehow ‘everyone knew’ about the multiple allegations of sexual harassment, sexual assault and rape surrounding Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein; allegations that go back decades. Yet, no one (read men) in positions of power followed even the most basic protection regulations and laws around sexual harassment and sexual violence.

Everyone also ‘knew’ about Jimmy Savile’s predatory behaviour to children and women. Despite multiple allegations made to numerous people supposedly responsible for child protection and multiple reports to police, the media still didn’t want to publish the clear evidence of Savile’s sexually predatory behaviour. Even after he died. Everyone knew; no one talked.

The original plan of Everyone Knew was to list only those men for whom allegations had become public in the immediate aftermath of Rowan Farrow’s expose of Harvey Weinstein’s crimes. However, it soon became clear that it was a false division. Part of the reason for including men like Charlie Chaplin and Roman Polanski, whose crimes go back decades, is to show just how ubiquitous this level of entitlement is and just how many men are perpetrators – men who did not suddenly become perpetrators when named in the press.  We talk about Harvey Weinstein as though it was a watershed point. The simple truth is the complete opposite. These ‘watershed’ moments are continuous and constant. We need to keep pushing back on the silencing of women and children. And, we need to stop pretending that naming Weinstein will change everything. We have been here before and it hasn’t. This isn’t to say we shouldn’t fight back. We must. Otherwise the abuse will still continue – unnamed because we already ‘solved’ it.

Many of the men named in the past month as alleged perpetrators were business associates or friends of men who already had a documented history of inappropriate and illegal behaviour. A significant number had worked with Harvey Weinstein. Allegations about Academy Award winner Ben Affleck only became public recently, however, his younger brother Casey was the subject of two sexual harassment complaints in 2010. Ben knew about these allegations and, along with long-time friend and collaborator Matt Damon, used his status as a shield for his younger brother. Allegations about the behaviour of Brett Ratner resulted in allegations about his long-time friend Russell Simmons. Allegations about Harvey Weinstein raised allegations about the behaviour of his brother  Bob, who is accused not only of sexual harassment himself but of helping cover up Harvey’s crimes. A number of these lists also list fashion photographer Terry Richardson as a ‘new’ allegation because the publisher Conde Nast has chosen to stop working with him this past month. The fact that Conde Nast knew of the multiple allegations of sexual harassment and sexual assault levied against Richardson in 2010 has been erased in favour of ‘watershed moment’ media coverage.

Over the years, feminist activists and journalists have campaigned for boycotts of celebrity men with a history of violence against women and girls.  The sheer number of allegations and the multiple perpetrators named in the past month make it difficult to keep track.  This is why Everyone Knew was born. It will be a database of convicted perpetrators, as well as naming men who are alleged to be perpetrators. You can find the list here; it is not complete and may never be as many predators will continue to use the their money and their power to silence victims. I have also built sub-categories of employment and industry to show that this is more than just ‘Hollywood’ or some rogue US senators.

You can follow us at @EveryoneKnew17 & #EveryoneKnew

As with many feminist projects, I created this database without external financial support. If you can afford to donate £1 to help continue this project, I would be incredibly grateful.

David Bowie and the issue of statutory rape

*** note*** I wrote this the day David Bowie died. I took it down after months and months of rape threats. I’m republishing now, with more links to media coverage of Bowie’s involvement with the ‘baby groupies’ scene.

 

In the 1970s, David Bowie, along with Iggy Pop, Jimmy Page, Bill Wyman, Mick Jagger and others, were part of the ‘Baby Groupies’ scene in LA. The ‘Baby Groupies’ were 13 to 15 year old girls who were sexually exploited and raped by male rock stars. The names of these girls are easily searchable online but I will not share them here as all victims of rape deserve anonymity.

The ‘Baby Groupie‘ scene was about young girls being prepared for sexual exploitation (commonly refereed to as grooming) and then sexually assaulted and raped. Even articles which make it clear that the music industry ” ignor(ed), and worse enabl(ed), a culture that still allows powerful men to target young girls” celebrate that culture and minimise the choices of adult men to rape children and those who chose to look away. This is what male entitlement to sexual access to the bodies of female children and adults looks like. It is rape culture.

David Bowie is listed publicly as the man that one 14 year old girl ‘lost her virginity’ too.

We need to be absolutely clear about this, adult men do not ‘have sex’ with 13 and 14 year old girls. It is child rape. Children cannot consent to sex with adult men – even famous rock stars. Suggesting this is due to the ‘context’ of 70s LA culture is to wilfully ignore the history of children being sexually exploited by powerful men. The only difference to the ‘context’ here was that the men were musicians and not politicians, religious leaders, or fathers.

The basic requirement for a good person is taking responsibility for their choices and the consequences of their choices. At no point has Bowie, or another of the men involved in the sexual exploitation and rape of ‘baby groupies’ has taken responsibility for the consequences. I have yet to see a statement saying, “I participated in this culture. I hurt children by participating in this culture and I apologise to the children I abused and those whose abuse I ignored.” A man with Bowie’s financial wherewithal could have taken the second step and donated funds to rape crisis centres, funded programs working with vulnerable children at risk of sexual exploitation.

It is perfectly reasonable and rational to mourn a man whose music made a huge impact on your life. It is neither reasonable nor rational to pretend that that person was a ‘god’ and erase their illegal and unethical behaviour because you love their music. I wrote my undergraduate thesis and first MSc to the Red Hot Chili Pepper’s album Californication. That one album has had a positive impact on my life and I still play when working. I’ve since read Anthony Kiedis’ memoir Scar Tissue and know now that he has a history of sexual exploitation of teenage girls. I had been under no illusions of his misogynistic behaviour before reading the book, but I was not aware of the full extent.

David Bowie was an incredible musician who inspired generations. He also participated in a culture where children were sexually exploited and raped. This is as much a part of his legacy as his music.

 

 

 

#womenwrites: women in prison, leftist dudebros, & male bumblers

86 percent of women in jail are sexual-violence survivors, by Rachel Leah

According to a recent study, 86 percent of women who have spent time in jail report that they had been sexually assaulted at some point in their lives. As well, while women represent just 13 percent of the jail population between 2009 and 2011, they represented 67 percent of the victims of staff-on-inmate sexual victimization. Sexual violence is so pronounced among jailed and incarcerated women that Sen. Cory Booker, (D-NJ,) labeled the overarching phenomenon as “a survivor-of-sexual-trauma to prisoner pipeline.”

These numbers come from the Vera Institute of Justice, which authored a survey last year titled “Overlooked: Women and Jails in an Era of Reform.” Given the rising numbers of incarcerated women, specifically in local jails, and the lack of research on them, the Institute wanted to examine who those women were and what adversities they faced. Other findings were equally alarming as those above.

Two thirds of the women in jail are of color, and the majority of that population is also low-income. Further, nearly 80 percent of the incarcerated are mothers, most of them raising a child without a partner. Eighty-two percent were incarcerated for nonviolent offenses, while 32 percent have serious mental illness and 82 percent suffer from drug or alcohol addiction. Finally, 77 percent of those polled were victims of partner violence and and another 60 percent experienced caregiver violence. …

The myth of the male bumbler, by Lily Loofbourow

Male bumblers are an epidemic.

These men are, should you not recognize the type, wide-eyed and perennially confused. What’s the difference, the male bumbler wonders, between a friendly conversation with a coworker and rubbing one’s penis in front of one? Between grooming a 14-year-old at her custody hearing and asking her out?

The world baffles the bumbler. He’s astonished to discover that he had power over anyone at all, let alone that he was perceived as using it. What power? he says. Who, me?

The bumbler is the first to confess that he’s bad at his job. Take Attorney General Jeff Sessions, who testified Tuesday of the Trump campaign’s foreign policy team, which he ran and which is now understood to have been in contact with Russian agents: “We were not a very effective group.” Or consider Dave Becky, the manager of disgraced comedian Louis C.K. (who confessed last week to sexual misconduct). Becky avers that “never once, in all of these years, did anyone mention any of the other incidents that were reported recently.” One might argue that no one should have needed to mention them; surely, as Louis C.K.’s manager, it was Becky’s job to keep tabs on open secrets about his client? Becky’s defense? He’s a bumbler! ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ …

“Dear Men on the Left,” by @GappyTales

It was sometime in 2006 that I remember sitting on my sofa, watching George Galloway pretend to be a cat. Enthralling and disturbing in equal measure though it was, (poor Rula) it was not what struck me about the man. Lodged in my mind far more firmly are the comments he made regarding fellow housemate and glamour model, Jodie Marsh: that perhaps some might feel it sexist, but he believed deep down she likely longed for nothing more than a quiet life of marriage and motherhood. I remember I gasped in disbelief. Had he really just said that? The man on the left beside me didn’t even flinch.

I wish I could say that were the first time it had dawned on me that some men supposedly on my side were not, but the instances are too many to name. The tale of one visiting man, loaded into a shopping trolley and forcibly wheeled off site by exasperated Greenham women, was a staple of my childhood. …

The Westminster Allegations Redux.

Michael Fallon lunged at me after our lunch, by Jane Merrick

When the story first broke last weekend that a secret list of “sex pest” Conservative MPs and cabinet ministers drawn up by researchers was circulating in Westminster, I decided to talk about my own experience of being lunged at by a Tory MP. By publicly discussing how it felt to be in that position, and how it was not acceptable, I thought it would help others to come forward to report sexual harassment. Yet because my incident happened 14 years ago, I decided not to name the MP in question.

A week on, things have changed. The MP has denied some allegations against him, and minimised others as somehow acceptable because they date from another time. His lack of contrition has made me change my mind. It is time for me to say publicly that the MP who lunged at me was Sir Michael Fallon. …

Bex Bailey, Labour activist, says she was raped at party event and told not to report it, by Rowena Mason, Anushka Asthana and Matthew Weaver

Allegations of sexual misconduct in Westminster took a new turn on Tuesday as a Labour activist spoke of being raped at a party event after a woman had described being assaulted on a hotel bed by an MP last year.

The two women both criticised the lack of proper processes for reporting their allegations, as political parties struggled with a fifth day of serious revelations about harassment and abuse in British politics.

The second woman, who said she was sexually assaulted by an MP on a hotel bed last year, criticised as “inadequate” proposals announced by the government on Monday aimed at enhancing existing reporting systems in parliament.

The Westminster staffer, who works for another MP and asked to remain anonymous, said there needed to be a “credible independent body” to investigate complaints about politicians’ behaviour that was not connected to the parties. …

Damian Green denies making sexual advances towards young Tory activist, by Matthew Weaver*

Theresa May has ordered an investigation into allegations that her deputy, Damian Green, made inappropriate advances to a female activist in the last two years.

Kate Maltby, who is 30 years younger than Green, the first secretary of state, told the Times he had “fleetingly” touched her knee during a meeting in a Waterloo pub in 2015 and sent her a “suggestive” text message after she was pictured wearing a corset in the newspaper.

Green, one of May’s closest political allies, said any allegation that he made sexual advances to Maltby was “untrue [and] deeply hurtful”.

One Tory MP has called for Green to be suspended while the allegations are investigated. Green is the most senior politician yet to be caught up in a wave of allegations and rumours relating to sexual harassment and abuse swirling around Westminster. …

This is why I came forward with my experience of sexual harassment by an MP – anonymous testimony

I am a member of the Labour Party. I was a delegate for my local CLP at the Labour Party Conference this September. I am a Corbyn supporter, a feminist and an activist. And I am also the anonymous woman who has lodged a complaint with the Labour Party over the inappropriate actions of an MP who “squeezed” my bum at our incredible conference in Brighton.

Of course, for the past few days the final statement has eclipsed all the others. Because that is how this works. It is the “bum squeezes”, the “knee touches”, the “lift lunges”, the “handsiness”, and then of course the denials, the silencing, the gaslighting that inevitably follow, this is the arena in which men keep women (and sometimes other men) in our bodies and, ultimately, in our place.

Was I traumatised by having my bum squeezed at conference? Of course not. Do you honestly think a bum squeeze gets anywhere near the list of the ways in which men have violated my boundaries, used their and my body against me to exert a subtle, or sometimes violent power over me? …

BBC News – Lib Dem member ‘referred to police over rape allegation’ 

The allegations emerged in a series of tweets over the weekend, which claimed an alleged victim’s complaint had been “hushed up” by party HQ.

The party said a member was suspended “pending the outcome” of a police probe but gave no further details.

It is the first allegation involving the Lib Dems in the misconduct scandal currently engulfing Westminster. …

Kate Malby wrote about her experience of sexual harassment for The Times. Unfortunately, it is behind a pay wall. You can find it here. 

This is the current list of Westminster sexual misconduct allegations: the MPs accused so far, written by Haroon Siddique for the Guardian. Here is a collection of articles I collated last week:

https://storify.com/EVB_Now/sexual-harassment-in-westminister